The Image Of The River In The Thought Of Heraclitus Of Ephesus

The article discusses the problem of constancy and change in the thought of Heraclitus of Ephesus. The discussion is based on a thorough examination of the three fragments , the subject of which is change depicted as the river. Two fragments, B 12 and B 49 a, considered from the perspective of human physiology and biology, respectively, have a lot in common. The Heraclitean metaphor of the river shows how from the sensations that the human being perceives, transformed in the humoral streams of the body, emerges human consciousness, referred to as psyche. The rational soul comes into being and grows on the way upwards: from the moisture to the dryness . In the context of other fragments , one could risk a claim that the emergence of an intelligent soul takes place in two dimensions: the cosmic and the human . Human cognition is born and intellectual life grows where these two dimensions meet. Human life in its physiological aspect alone cannot bring the advantages of the information inferred from the perceived sensations. It is the process of evaporation that transforms these sensual data into a more sophisticated structure , thanks to which the human being — despite the continuous flow of the stream of sensations — remain the human being . As it may be concluded from our analysis of fragment B 49a, there is a plenty of rivers of life — as many as human individuals — and each of these rivers is identical to others. This is because through stepping into their river, each human being undergoes self-realization in a constantly repetitive pre-set framework which creates an unbroken cycle of life and death. Each human being is faced with the influence of these two factors in every moment of their existence: they are and they are not at the same time. In this way human beings take part in the realization of the law of identity of life and death, whose struggle manifest itself cosmically in the phenomenon of passage: we are the river that flows and passes by. Similar is the whole cosmos, metaphorically presented in B 91 as the river of the world. This image covers the whole realm of things and marks the height of the Heraclitean idea of the identity of opposites. The river banks correspond logically to two most important physical opposites: fire and “non-fire”, which unremittingly trigger the process of creation of things. Every moment the world is being transformed, as are the flowing, always fresh, waters of the river, to which no one can step more than once, because any next time the river will be different; only the banks will stay the same. The image used by Heraclitus of Ephesus helps us realize the role of the unity and diversity — two inseparable attributes of the universe. One cosmos is like one river, everything flows in it, but the cosmos remains — thanks to the everlasting Logos-Fire, the ultimate guarantee of the existence of everything, including the human being and their soul . Thanks to the fire of the soul a human beings find their identity with the cosmic Logos-Reason and Fire through cognition. Only this identity can enable the human being to realize some fixed model of life in keeping with the cosmic laws of physical flux and of the unity of opposites. In this way the human microcosm becomes a mirror image of the macrocosmic activity of the Logos.Key words HERACLITUS, RIVER-FRAGMENT
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